Arlington, Virginia is home for Kim and Richard and a flock of flamingos

By Chord Bezerra
Photography by Todd Franson
Published on July 1, 2004, 12:00am | Comments

2 BR, 2 1/2 BA House in Arlington, Va., previously owned by a sweet little old lady. Back yard area perfect for uber-landscaping. Plenty of room for collectibles. Will throw in sun-yellow formica kitchen table if asked nicely.

With an ever-growing flock of flamingos taking control of their townhouse, Kim Mcleod, an assistant director at a mutual fund company, and Richard Gilroy, a creative director for an advertising agency, knew it was time to find a new, bigger home. They settled on an Arlington rambler with a backyard primed for development.

Kim: We moved here about five years ago. We were living in the Del Ray area of Alexandria before that. This house had only had one owner who had been living here since 1961. Sally was this 80-year-old woman and when she moved out you could still see the lines on the walls where the furniture had been -- it had never been painted. It was really frightening. We just gutted it and started over. The first thing we did was paint and had the electrical redone.

[In the living room] Our style is what we like. We are fun and we don't take anything all that seriously. If it's a little bit over the edge we like it. The flamingo thing started in high school. I'm from a very, very small farm town in Michigan -- twenty-three hundred people. The town had all these tacky flamingos and my friend and I decided one night that we were going to beautify our town so we stole all the flamingos out of everybody's yard. Then we stole them out of the next town's yards and put them all in a corncrib. At one time we had like 450 pair. We went to separate collages and all our friends got into it. We used to do flamingo shows too. We once painted some black and put steel wool on them and did the Supremes. This [little brass one] was the very first flamingo. I was just out with a friend and she goes, "look isn't that cool." After that it just started to become a collection.

Richard: [In the backyard] Our favorite thing in the world is to come home on a Friday night, change clothes, have a drink or two around the patio table and listen to Broadway music.

Kim: We're really not gay. We just pretend.

Richard: [Sighs] We are old theater queens. The backyard started out with just a little cement slab and this hill was entirely covered with English Ivy and weeds. We knew we wanted to expand the patio. It started out with us saying, "Lets make the patio bigger." Then we said, "While we are at it, we've always wanted a water feature to go on the hillside."

Kim: And "While we are at it, let's have in ground lighting put in." And "While we are at it, let's have them do the front yard and side yards too."

[In the family room] For Christmas we get a big tree. I know you'll find this odd but we collect Christmas ornaments. Last year we bought one of those twig trees, which are just twigs with lights on them. I thought it would be nice to just put our flamingo ornaments on it. We did that last year and it was really cool but we didn't enough -- so I made some. We went out and bought pink and green glass balls and we have stickers -- don't ask why -- and I made my own and they look really cool.

Richard: [In the kitchen] When we first looked at this house it was not the house that we wanted to buy. This house was…

Kim: The lowest on our list.

Richard: Then Sally reduced the price for us over the weekend. While we were going through the house this table and the chairs were in the basement. We talked to our realtor and said, "We'll take the house if that table conveys." Of course Sally probably thought that we must be out of our minds but we said we have to have the table.

Kim: She agreed. We often say we bought the table and she just threw in the house.

Richard: Before we sold our previous house our realtor made us put away a lot of stuff in storage, which we couldn't get to until we finished painting and remodeling. I think I really felt at home in our new house once we were able to rescue all our collectables from storage and put them in our house. They're like our little friends.

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